Driving for Success

Michelle Xie (15) prepares for a shot. Paly Girls Golf went on to win CCS against Saint Francis Lancers by a close four shots.

Michelle Xie (’15) prepares for a shot. Paly Girls’ Golf went on to win CCS against Saint Francis Lancers by a close four shots.

At first glance Michelle Xie (‘15) looks like any other Paly student. However, she has a special talent, Xie is one of the best golfers at Paly. She is currently ranked 126 out of the over 2000 girls ranked on the Junior Golf Scoreboard. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Xie is the first avid golfer in her family, and she is attaining more and more success with each match she plays. Xie is co-captain of the newly established girls’ golf team, whose inaugural season started this fall.

Xie has been playing golf for close to half of her 15 years. She began playing golf when her mom decided to sign her up for a summer golf camp at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course when she was eight years old. Xie learned that she enjoyed playing golf after taking the camp and decided she wanted to continue to play. After starting her golf career at Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, Xie still practices and competes there every week for the Vikings.

“Well originally my mom kind of just put me in a summer camp, but after that it was mostly me wanting to play,” Xie said.

Following her experience at camp, Xie started to pick up the game more and more and began practicing at the Palo Alto Hills Golf Course, where she still practices and plays the summer team.

Xie’s passion for her sport shines through when she talks about golf. She enjoys the mental aspect involved in playing the game along with the game’s competitiveness.

“You don’t have to be the stereotypical athlete, you don’t have to be very physical or anything, it’s a lot of a mental game,” Xie said.

Xie has received much praise from both her coach and her teammates, not only for her dedication to her outstanding golf career so far, but also for how well she handles herself both on and off the golf course.

“She’s motivating because she tries her best,” co-captain Annie Chen (‘14) said.  “She’s always at the top of her game.”

Girls golf coach Doyle Knight echos Chen’s praise, adding that Xie helps to inspire the rest of the girls’ golf team to do the best that they can.

“When she was a freshman she was very quiet,” girls’ golf coach Doyle Knight said. “And now I see that she is a little more outspoken and she’s a great leader because she’s such a great player”.

Xie is extremely dedicated to playing golf, practicing five to six times a week. She admits, however, that school can interfere with her practice schedule. She competes in golfing tournaments located mostly on the West Coast, but has started traveling to tournaments cross country recently. Last year Xie traveled across the country to compete in tournaments in both Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Xie’s dedication to golf often takes away from her practice time with the Paly golf team because of a scholarship agreement she has with the Palo Alto Hills Golf Course that requires her to practice at their course. Despite this, she still makes the effort to go the extra mile as a leader for the girls’ team when she attends Paly practices.

However, one of the largest obstacles for Xie to overcome during her time as a golfer has been her battle to return from surgery last year that forced her to take a four-month leave from her competitive golfing career.

“I had surgery on my knee last September and I had to stop golf for four months and that put me behind my competition a lot,” Xie said.  “Coming back into the season I really want to do well and put myself back up there.”

With her goal of returning to her pre-surgery status as a competitive golfer, Xie rehabilitated her knee and made a strong comeback during Paly’s co-ed golf season last year. Even so, she returned from surgery to face yet another obstacle she had to overcome. During last year’s season Paly only entered Boy’s CCS, forcing Xie not to be allowed to compete individually in the tournament. Despite the disappointment of not being allowed to compete in CCS, Xie admits playing against the boys had its perks, as she was able to challenge herself to work her way back into the game following her recovery from her knee surgery.

“It was good for me playing on the boys’ team,” Xie said. “Coming back from my surgery I had somewhere to go, I had somewhere to just start again.  Starting at small matches and working up, that really helped me.”

Xie has come a long way as a golfer since she first played at a camp when she was eight years old, and now has aspirations of continuing on and playing golf at a Division I school. As the first season of girl’s golf continues, Xie plans on continuing the success she has had thus far and to do even better during the fall season. She has set high goals not only for herself, but also for the team as a whole. While Xie hopes to continue her golf career post high school, and has already started to look at different possible universities, she is focusing on the immediate future for now. With the season of girls’ golf well underway, Xie has high hopes for the all girls’ team.